Prop. 8 ‘dream team’ joins lawsuit to overturn Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

VirginiaThe state of Virginia's tourism and travel slogan is "Virginia is for Lovers." Well, not quite for everyone.

The Prop. 8 "dream team" of Ted Olson and David Boies, who teamed up to overturn the gay-marriage ban
in California, have joined a lawsuit against Virginia’s prohibition against same-sex marriage. Lawyers want Virginia as same-sex marriage test case:

The American Foundation for Equal Rights — with its attention-getting
political odd couple of conservative Republican lawyer Theodore Olson
and liberal Democrat David Boies — will announce Monday it is joining a
lawsuit against what the lawyers called Virginia’s “draconian” laws
prohibiting same-sex marriages, the recognition of such marriages
performed where they are legal, and civil unions.

EqualIt is one of dozens of lawsuits filed across the nation by same-sex marriage activists who say they feel emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decisions in June that
overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that forbade
recognition of same-sex marriages and separately allowed such unions to
resume in California.

* * *

There are dozens of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts in 18
states, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and on Friday, a state judge in New Jersey ruled same-sex marriages must be allowed there. Gov. Chris Christie (R) is appealing.

But
the ultimate goal is the recognition of a constitutional right, such as
when the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial
marriages in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision.

The addition of Olson and Boies to a case in Norfolk will probably bring more attention to
the challenges to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages. The state’s
voters in 2006 amended the state constitution to ban such marriages, as
well as civil unions, and to forbid recognition of unions performed
elsewhere.

* * *

Olson said AFER was invited to join the case by attorneys for the
plaintiffs, Norfolk residents Timothy Bostic and Tony London, whose
marriage application was turned down, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley,
who have a 15-year-old daughter and whose marriage in California is not
recognized by the commonwealth.

Virginia is an “attractive
target,” said Olson, who lives in the state, because its rejection of
same-sex marriage and civil unions is so complete.

“The more unfairly people are being treated, the more obvious it is that it’s unconstitutional,” Olson said.

* * *

Olson and Boies teamed up to challenge California’s Proposition 8, which was passed
by voters in 2008 to stop the same-sex marriages that the state’s high
court had authorized.

The result was a full trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who ruled that the California ban violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

Olson said he did not anticipate a trial in the Norfolk proceedings
before U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen, but the record from
California “is a great foundation for us which we can convey into the
federal courts in Virginia.”
This Virginia case is also attractive because it is moving quickly, at the state’s request.

* * *

Although Virginia’s constitutional amendment was easily approved,
recent polling shows a majority of residents favor legalizing same-sex
marriage. But Republicans who control the state’s political leadership
and legislature are opposed, and removing the constitutional amendment
would be difficult.

The constitution can be amended by voters only
after a constitutional convention or if a proposed amendment is passed
twice by the General Assembly, with an election occurring between the
two votes.

While the Perry decision was important to Californians, the court’s 5-to-4 DOMA ruling in U.S. v. Windsor provides
same-sex marriage supporters with the most hope. Even dissenting
Justice Antonin Scalia said that while the decision purported to support
state rights, it provided a road map for challenges to state bans.

* * *

Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director of the Human Rights
Campaign, said: “We had an opportunity to see where the Supreme Court
was standing on the issue, and I think attorneys are increasingly
confident that the court is ready to take up the whole nine yards.”

The state of Hawaii is taking up legislation in a special session in October. State courts are expected to rule in cases in New Mexico and Pennsylvania in October.

UPDATE: Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit seeking marriage equality in West Virginia.

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